My great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Wagner, was a Sergeant in the 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment. He owned a plantation in Alabama and fought for what he believed was right. He was a good man who raised a large family after the war, a family which included my grandfather, who himself was a WWI veteran and then a minister in the Church of Christ.
Although I am descended from a Confederate soldier, I cannot embrace the Confederate Battle Flag, and I do not consider it as representing my heritage. Maybe at one time that flag could represent just Southern heritage, but that time has long since passed. Because groups dedicated to hatred, racism, and even murder have appropriated this symbol and made it theirs in no unmistakable terms,
that flag has been forever tainted. I wish that at some point in the past the members of the Confederacy had stood up to the racists and told them that they could not use that flag as their symbol – but they did not. They let groups like the KKK and the Aryan Nation and other White Supremacist organizations have that flag and turn it into their symbol, and now it can no longer be a symbol of good men who died for a cause. And although I know some want to believe that the Confederate Battle Flag can represent the heritage of the South, it just isn’t possible anymore. There is too much blood from lynchings and murderers and too much hate associated with that flag now. And it is there, even if you don’t want to see it. It is just too late to redeem that flag.
It is not the first time this has happened. Consider the swastika, a design that appeared as early as 10,000BC and was prominent in designs on pottery and in mosaics throughout the ancient Greco-Roman world. No matter how pretty the design, the swastika is now inseparable from the crimes and racism and genocide of Nazi Germany. It can never be redeemed and can never be the simple pretty design that it was before Hitler. It is too late for that image.
Similarly, who can now hear the name Isis and think just of the Egyptian Goddess of life and resurrection? No, that name is now associated with terrorists.
The same is true of the Confederate Battle Flag. Those who want it to represent just heritage have been robbed by those who have used it to represent hate. This is the time, then, to find a new symbol, maybe one of the other flags that can represent the pride of Southerners in their heritage. But this particular flag is too damaged, too tainted, and now represents such racist hatred that it has no place in the Natchitoches Christmas Parade and honestly, no place among good men who fought with valor.
To honor my great grandfather’s memory and the life he built after the war and the family he raised and the battles my grandfather and other members of my family have fought, I prefer to fly the flag of the United States. I hope y’all will too. Merry Christmas!
The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from T. Davina McClain. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ms. McClain and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.